Geelong cable location business penalised

25 January 2023

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a $10,000 penalty in court against the operator of a business in Geelong, Victoria, that specialises in locating underground cables.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed the penalty against Sofworks Pty Ltd, which operates a business trading as Geelong Cable Locations.

The penalty was imposed in response to Sofworks failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to calculate and back-pay entitlements to a worker it employed as a full-time underground utility detection technician between 2017 and 2021.

Sofworks back-paid the worker the entitlements owing to him in full only after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Ms Parker said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The FWO investigated after receiving a request for assistance from the affected worker.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Sofworks in April 2021 after forming a belief that the worker had not been paid accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements on termination of his employment, owed under the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2020 and the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.

Judge Catherine Symons said that a failure by an employer to comply with a Compliance Notice given under the Fair Work Act “undermines the efficacy of the statutory notice regime”.

Judge Symons found that there was a need to impose a penalty to deter others from similar breaches.

Employers and employees can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

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